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Minister dodges responsibility for heart deaths

Minister dodges responsibility for heart deaths

Heart patients are dying while on hospital waiting lists but the Health Minister simply doesn't want to know, says National health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"It is astonishing that when asked in Parliament what the Minister will do about South Island and lower North Island heart patients having to be sicker than Auckland patients to get surgery, that all she can do is blame National. "Five years ago Annette King was promising "national consistency" in the provision of heart surgery and slamming any regional differences in the criteria for heart surgery. National changed the system to move substantially towards giving all New Zealanders who reached 35 points access to heart surgery.

"Now people in the lower North Island and throughout the South Island have to accumulate 50 points or more to get a heart bypass, while those in Auckland and Hamilton require only 35 points.

"Annette King's claims that this difference in points does not mean a different level of sickness to qualify for surgery, is nonsense. The 100 patients dumped off the Otago waiting list, who don't qualify for surgery now, can confirm this.

"Annette King is full of promises to review the unfairness of who can and can't get heart surgery but she promised to address this last year, and again four months ago and the situation has only got worse.

"This unfairness is because Labour is operating a system where district health boards can increase the points, to assess a patient's need for surgery, when money gets tight.

"The Minister is dodging the issue by blaming different boards for their systems, when the Government's poor management is the cause of the problem," Dr Scott says.

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